Preventing Outdoor Faucets from Freezing: To Drip or Not to Drip?

If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, you may have heard the advice to let your outdoor faucet drip to prevent it from freezing. But is this advice accurate, and does it actually work? In this article, we will explore this topic in detail and provide you with everything you need to know about preventing outdoor faucets from freezing.

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What Happens When Your Outdoor Faucet Freezes?

When temperatures drop below freezing, the water inside your outdoor faucet can freeze and expand, causing the faucet to crack or burst. This can cause significant damage to your plumbing system and result in expensive repairs. Additionally, a frozen outdoor faucet can also cause water to back up into your home’s pipes, leading to burst pipes and other plumbing problems.

Should You Let Your Outdoor Faucet Drip?

One common piece of advice to prevent outdoor faucets from freezing is to let them drip slowly. The idea behind this is that the constant flow of water will prevent the faucet from freezing. While this advice may work in some cases, it is not foolproof and may not be necessary in all situations.

In general, you should only let your outdoor faucet drip if the temperature is expected to drop below freezing for an extended period. If the temperature will only be below freezing for a short time, it may not be necessary to let your faucet drip.

Another factor to consider is the type of faucet you have. If you have a newer frost-free faucet, which has a built-in mechanism that prevents water from remaining in the spout and freezing, you may not need to let your faucet drip. However, if you have an older faucet without this mechanism, letting it drip may be necessary.

How to Let Your Outdoor Faucet Drip

If you do decide to let your outdoor faucet drip, it is important to do it correctly. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the faucet. You can usually do this by turning a valve inside your home.
  2. Open the faucet and let any remaining water drain out.
  3. Turn the faucet back off.
  4. Place a container under the faucet to catch any drips.
  5. Turn the faucet on just enough to allow a slow drip. You do not need a fast flow of water.
  6. Check the faucet periodically to ensure it is still dripping.

Other Tips to Prevent Outdoor Faucets from Freezing

In addition to letting your outdoor faucet drip, there are other steps you can take to prevent it from freezing. Here are some tips:

  1. Disconnect any hoses from the faucet and store them indoors.
  2. Install an insulated cover over the faucet. This will help protect it from the cold.
  3. If the faucet is located in an unheated area, such as a garage or crawl space, consider using a space heater or heat tape to keep the area warm.
  4. Insulate any exposed pipes leading to the faucet.
  5. Keep the cabinet doors under sinks open to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.
  6. If you are going to be away from your home for an extended period during the winter, consider turning off the main water supply and draining your pipes to prevent freezing.

TL;DR Letting your outdoor faucet drip can be an effective way to prevent it from freezing, but it may not be necessary in all situations. If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, it is important to take steps to protect your plumbing system from the cold. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can help prevent your outdoor faucet from freezing and avoid costly repairs.


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